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Skydivers Injured in Jump Incident That Left Them Scattered on City Streets

A 14-person Precision Jump Team "Disoriented" Away From Landing Zone

A 14-person attempt at formation skydiving in Lake Wales Monday afternoon left two skydivers with life-threatening injuries. Witnesses said that at least one parachute appeared to become tangled and failed to fully open. Two women in the group made hard landings, sustaining injuries that required them to be airlifted to a trauma center.

According to witnesses, one skydiver came down at the intersection of North Scenic Highway and Wiltshire Avenue. Witnesses immediately began to offer first aid to the young woman. Two other skydivers also landed along several blocks of Scenic Highway, with a second seriously-injured person being found nearby as police responded to emergency calls.

Two other women also made hard landings resulting in injuries that were not considered life-threatening, while another landed without incident on a street nearby. The rest of the group were reportedly able to navigate to open areas during the 3 .p.m. incident.

Wiltshire Avenue resident David Clemons said he was outdoors when he "heard a scream" that apparently came from one of the victims just prior to impact. He immediately went to the scene, along with staff from Spook Hill Elementary and other witnesses, some of whom offered first aid before the arrival of emergency crews.

The normal target landing zone for skydivers from the popular JumpFlorida skydive center is on the Lake Walles airport property, about a mile southwest of the scene. The Lake Wales center draws competitive teams from around the world to practice, especially during the winter months.

A spokesperson from JumpFlorida who wished to remain anonymous told Lake Wales News that the center is currently hosting a group of 160 divers from 17 countries, mostly in Europe, who are practicing formation diving. All of those who sustained injuries were young women, it was reported. At least one of those serious injured was from Finland, the News learned.

The out-of-town group reportedly became disoriented and failed to recognize their planned landing zone at the airport. Breezy southwest winds then carried them over the urban area, presenting major challenges to safe landings among the numerous wires, trees, buildings, .and traffic signals.

The group had jumped from an altitude of 14,500 feet, according to a report of the incident shared by the Lake Wales Police Department. That altitude is at the high end of skydive heights and is used to allow the additional time needed to create the complex shapes and movements required for acrobatic skydiving competition.


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